Why GPL ?

Why GPL ?

In the last weeks I read a lot about the GPL discussion for WordPress themes and you maybe noticed the recent reaction of the Cforms plugin author. NextGEN Gallery is as well a popular plugin at wordpress.org and here is my opinion why GPL is not a bad thing :

The most authors argue that someone grap their work and make money with it, so the minimum return of invest is a backlink to the author page. I think the most of them doesn’t understand the idea behind GPL. Yes, you can release a code under a other licence, Creative Commons contains some version where you can disallow to remove attribution or the use in a commercial project, so why should be all code at wordpress.org restricted to GPL ?

Please keep in you mind :

Does the Apache team require a backlink to their page, due to fact that you use it ?

Does the PHP team require a backlink to their page, due to fact that you use it ?

Does the MySQL team require a backlink to their page, due to fact that you use it ?

Does the WordPress team require a backlink to their page, due to fact that you use it ?

None of this projects require a link in any footer, for none of them you need to spend any cent to use it in a project. And if you are a talent web developer you can sell a setup of a simple web page to your clients, within a minute.

But why should they still develop these great product, if nobody need to pay for it ? What’s the motivation ?

Here is my personal view as plugin author :

I started to program my plugins just for my own projects and feel that when I release the code I can return a little bit to the community instead of donate anybody some money. Of course not everybody is able to program plugins, themes or whatever, so a donation is a great motivation any way. But I cannot claim that you maybe use it for a project where your client paid a lot of money. Some of my plugins are not so popular (like wp-table) and I closed the develeopment, because I never need it again, it did the work a long time for me and so I see no reason to continue the work..

But what happened if a plugin, a theme, a CMS or a blog system gets popular ?

First of all you receive more feedback, maybe other programmers contribute to your project, then – and this is the most important part – you are able to sell your knowledge ! As author of a plugin, a program or a theme you have the best knowledge about it and sometimes a company require your help. For you it’s maybe a simple thing and here you can get your best motivation to continue your development.

My plugin NextGEN Gallery is approx. 500.000 times downloaded and during the success a couple of people donate money for more features or even they would say thanks for the work. THIS is my motivation and for the rare case (I don’t belive it) it has still more success, I maybe able to create some buisness around it.

If you see how PHP, WordPress or other large projects evolved, you can see how GPL could help you. Please keep in your mind, YOU are the author of the code and you have the best knowledge about, so don’t restricted it with some silly links.

For all the people which could not follow my opinion I suggest to read also the arguments from Owen Winkler and Justin Tadlock.

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16 thoughts on “Why GPL ?

  1. Boris says:

    Well said, Alex. Couldn’t agree more!

  2. Mattias says:

    +1, well written!

  3. Rene says:

    100% Agree.
    I do something equal, under terms an condition of common creative license. And I have to say thank you for your kindness to share knowledge.

    Best regards,
    Ich stimme dir 100% zu. Meine kreative Arbeit veröffentliche ich auch unter einer ähnlichen Lizens, der Creative Common License.
    Ich danke dir sehr, dass du dein Wissen und Können (mit)teilst.

    Herzlichen Gruss,

  4. The thing I don’t really get is that people think they’ll lose backlinks or can’t make money releasing GPL-licensed themes/plugins. I’m making enough money releasing themes and plugins under the GPL. I get loads of backlinks. In my last few themes I even put a checkbox in the theme settings page where a user can choose whether to show a link back to my site or not.

    If your theme/plugin is good, then people will link back to you in some way. Plus, I’d rather have 10 quality backlinks from sites with great reputations than 100 backlinks from sites with no PR.

    If you’re building a business and your theme/plugin is good, there are ways to make money that are completely compliant with the GPL. Just look at Akismet, WordPress.com, Theme Hybrid, and Revolution 2. I’m sure there are loads of other people making money from GPL-licensed software.

  5. Stefan says:

    I would say thank you for your great Gallery 🙂 Still not rich enough to spend some bucks but the time will come 🙂

    Ich möchte mich mal extremst für dein super mega geniales Plugin bedanken 🙂 Und wenn ich mal mehr Geld habe dann werde ich mich auch mit einer kleinen Spende bei dir bedanken 🙂 Da ich selbst mit PHP und Co zu tun habe weiß ich welche Arbeit dahinter steckt .. Also Danke Danke Danke und nochmal Danke für deine geniale Arbeit 🙂


  6. marcO says:

    Well said! Nothing to add!

  7. Pete says:

    Certainly well said, if only Matt M. would adhere to his own standards. I’m all for GPL, but please, *please* don’t bend rules for your own sakes…

    You can google and may find the full info to:

    “[…]Akismet CHARGES ALL commercial/suspected commercial/non-profit organizations — and for non-profits to take advantage of Akismet for free, they MUST have a LINK with an APPROVED comment on the page.[…]”

  8. Björn says:

    “you maybe noticed the recent reaction of the Cforms plugin author”

    No, I did not. Can you be kind at provide me with a link to his/hers reaction?

  9. Ramoonus says:

    i agree with the licensing issues,
    but everybody wants to make a profit out of their work .. whats wrong with it? as long as it`s your work …
    licensing is still a strange thing in my view

    Btw I`m glad that cform is back up and running 😉 can`t wait till its on wordpress.com once again … saves me a load of updating work

    PS; is your internet connection finally working?

  10. cipote says:

    Vielen dank for your generosity Alex! It’s very nice that you share your knowledge with the community. I use your NextGen Gallery plugin, which is fantastic by the way! My site is much more richer because of your plugin!

  11. Very nice thoughts 🙂

    you know, i just came here from your plugin to clear difference between gallery & album but had much time here in reading yours posts.

    GPL….should be open…without forceful linking i fully agree.

  12. Wim says:

    It’s great many thanks!

  13. Alex, I found you on the net while searching for table solutions. I like the layout and look of your site and am interested in hiring you for a small job; I’d like to implement a table in the current version of WP (2.7). Could you email me to discuss?

  14. TheFrosty says:

    Good write up.

  15. Andy Mc says:

    Hi Alex,

    Fantastic post on why GPL works for you, don’t think it could’ve been better said.

    It might also be said releasing under GPL is (in the bigger picture) a great way to build interest and activity in self-built websites (especially using WP).

    A lot of people want to get online with thier own site but have little skill, and probably even less time to learn. instead of mocking them, help them online to share potentially great content.

    I guess what I’m saying is that by reducing the time ‘lost’ to picking up the technical knowledge will inevitably open up time for the contributer to focus on their content, never a bad thing.

    For the record, I’ve started redeveloping my site around your NextGEN plugin and, based on the great work you and the addon crew have done, will certainly be donating. Great work!

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